Omicron’s grip on Garden State continued to deliver a record number of cases over Christmas, when the health department reported a whopping 16,626 positive tests.
The latest figures represent a 143% increase from the daily figures reported four days earlier on December 21. New Jersey broke the daily record for cases for a fourth straight day after quickly catching up to previous highs reported in January this year.
A spike in positive cases has been the result of one of the most contagious variants of COVID-19, prompting millions of people to run for tests as the new, highly infectious strain surges as Christmas approaches .
The number of positive cases is expected to be much higher with countless numbers of people using rapid tests not being reported to state health departments.
Hospitals have been resisting so far, but at least six in the central part of the state have had to move to “hijack” status at various times earlier in the week. However, this number may change per minute as resources are adjusted to meet demand.
New York state, meanwhile, broke its single-day COVID record on Friday for the seventh time in just over a week with a staggering 44,431 new cases.
Statewide, hospitalizations are at their highest since early April, but remain about half of what they were at last December’s peak.
On Thursday, the most recent data available, hospitalizations reached 2,366, up 5% from the previous day and more than double what they were three weeks earlier.
Local state governments are scrambling to respond. In Essex County, where daily positives have nearly tripled every 48 hours this week, Newark, Montclair and South Orange have all reimposed indoor mask warrants.
School districts are also struggling to keep up, with at least two – Paterson and Maplewood-South Orange – announcing that they will return to temporary virtual learning after the winter break.
The largest city in New Jersey implemented a new order for masks on the same day, with infections in the state nearing an 11-month high for a fifth consecutive day. Tracie Strahan reports.
Omicron has edged out other variants and is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the United States, accounting for 73% of new infections last week, federal health officials said on Monday. Figures from the CDC showed an almost six-fold increase in the share of omicron infections in just one week.
In much of the country, the prevalence of omicron is even higher. It is responsible for about 90 percent of new infections in the New York City area, the Southeast, the Industrial Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, according to the CDC.
New Jersey’s own genomic monitoring puts its omicron prevalence at over 53%, according to the state’s latest data.